Link to Us
Steve Harris Interview
Saturday Morning, 8am
[ Add Comment ]
Arrived at Heathrow - me and Clive meet rest of the lads including Ross Halfin, only to find that Adrian (bearing a close resemblance to Stan Laurel this morning) has left his passport at home (daft bleeder, now he has to wait for it to arrive and will miss the flight and have to get a later one) and Paul is still out of his brains from the previous night as usual.
Flight gets delayed so we all head for the bar. Ross has one drink and decides to spew all over the bar (he's scared of flying and the idiot takes his Valium pills washed down with lager...sensible!). Flight originally scheduled for 9.30, finally gets off at 10.30 due to a weight problem. Could be because Halfin and our manager Rod Smallprint are travelling together.
Pretty boring flight. I get stuck next to Halfin who now wants to get up for a pee every two minutes. We listen to tapes of UFO, Blackfoot, etc. Dave and Clive are caught reading The Beano and Warlord!
Stopped in Zagreb 12.55. It was peeing down. Arrived Belgrade at 2.15. At least it's not raining here. Needless to say we didn't get a red carpet! After a few problems getting Dougie, our American sound guy, through immigration, we head for the hotel.
3.25 we arrive at the Hotel Yugoslavia. It amazes me that we haven't been arrested and clapped in irons yet, not that we've done anything but I'm told that it doesn't take much over here. Everybody gets washed up then about 4.30 we make for the gig site to check it out.
Straight away you can see that they don't have many bands play over here because all the bands on today (we play tomorrow, Sunday) use the same amps, cabs and drum-kit. There's virtually no lights, what there are have come out of the ark. The stage is really uneven, just a load of wooden planks stuck together. There's no covering over the top either, so if it rains we'll probably all go up in smoke.
The crowd is a fair way away because a small brook separates them from the stage. As soon as the band playing at the time finishes, someone announces that Maiden have arrived and the crowd go crazy. As I said, they don't get many bands here and just the fact that we've actually made it here really means something to them.
We then go for a bite to eat in a restaurant backstage (the site is an old race track) before heading back to the hotel at about 8pm, driven by Andy Capp, the maniac driver who's go the job of carting us about for the weekend. We're all getting ready to go out when there's a commotion going on in one of the rooms.
It turns out that Ross, after using the khazi in Clive's room, didn't release the lever and has flooded it out. He's a walking disaster area, this bloke! We'd better get out of here or I'm sure he'll wreck the gaff. We don't end up going out till about 10 after trying to get everybody together.
As it is, Dave has gone missing, can't find him anywhere and Paul has crashed out feeling ill, so we decide to go without 'em. Nobody could decide where to go, that was another reason for the delayed departure, but we end up going to the Club Del Puke, or something.
It was really bad, all these wooftas dressed up to the nines. There was no alternative but to get drunk. The trouble is when you actually try to get drunk, it never really happens. All-in-all a pretty uneventful evening and we end up getting back to the hotel about 2am and crashing out.
We get woken up at 8.45 by alarm calls as we have to get down to the gig for a sound check at 10. Once up, we get told not to go down until about 11.30 because there are problems, what problems we're not told. We discover that Dave went to a titties and beer club last night with his perverted French guitar roadie and had a really good time. Only wish he'd asked us.
We finally get down to the sound check at about 12 only to find that if we want to do one it will have to be in front of about 5000 fans who have slept at the racetrack overnight! Still, it's important that we do one because apart from our guitars which we brought with us, all the equipment is hired gear which we need to check.
We'd asked for specific gear beforehand, but they couldn't get exactly what we'd ordered. We couldn't bring our own gear because there wouldn't be time to get our trucks up to Scandinavia for the scheduled gigs there (this Yugoslav gig was put in at the last minute, so we thought we'd giveit a go anyway without our own gear).
As like the day before, all the gear looks like its come out of the ark. Actually, Clive's drum-kit is ok and doesn't sound too bad although the drum riser looks like it's going to collapse any minute but when tested seems to be reasonably sturdy. It's fairly high and there's no steps so I ask the roadies to put a couple of flight cases down to do the job.
(Everything really is a bit Mickey Mouse but to 'ell with it, we can still have a good time, I hope, and well, this is behind the Iron Curtain, know what I mean?)
Dave and Adrian's gear sounds pretty reasonable but the monitors are a bit of a joke (a bit like wedged beer crates), Paul's gonna have fun hearing himself tonight. My gear seems to be the worst of the lot (just my luck), it looks awful and it doesn't sound much better either.
We proceed with the sound-check, Clive messes around with his drum levels through his monitors for about 15 minutes, then the rest of the band get their sound levels together which takes about 15 minutes or so, then when everybody's happy (well, sort of, anyway), we play a couple of numbers just to make sure everything sounds ok together.
We play 'Ghengis Khan' and 'Running Free' and the crowd, who must have been woken up by all the messing about beforehand are going bananas on a bloody sound-check! No real problems so we finish up and head back to the hotel.
We arrive at about 2 and decide to grab something to eat before the restaurant closes. We are scheduled to go on last at about 9.30 tonight but we got a phone call from the road crew saying that the lights have blown up so we'll have to go on at 6 in order to play a full set before it gets dark at 7.30-7.45!
We agree to meet in reception at about 4 so that we can do a photo session with Ross before leaving for the gig. Just after 4.00 I get to reception where Halfin is the first one there so I decide to interview him while we're waiting for the others.
Steve: Well, Ross, when did you first start to take photos?
Ross: When I was about 16, I s'pose
Steve: Is it true that your early influences were David Bailey and Lord Snowdon?
Ross: Yeh, that's right.
Steve: During the punk explosion was it hard for you to get work?
Ross: Yeah, I couldn't get work anywhere.
Steve: When is your third portfolio coming out?
Ross: Early next year.
We then get disrupted because the rest of the band have turned up so we go and do the photo session by the Grey Danube which is situated at the back of the hotel. We then head for the gig and arrive at about 5.15. We're told that about 15,000-20.000 people have turned up. Nice one!
When we get to the dressing room, which is in the track pavilion we find that John McCoy, bass player of the Gillan band, has dropped by to say hallo. (He's out here producing a Yugoslav band: what a small world, Yugoslavia of all places!)
6.05. We hit the stage in broad daylight after the intro tape (The Ides of March) is played through the PA. We launch into 'Sanctuary' and everything's steaming along with the crowd going apeshit when we start getting fluctuation in the power so the volume starts going up and down but I realise that it's only my rig that's being badly affected.
My sound has suddenly become like a pig grunting and at the end of the song the roadies are running about frantically trying to find the root of the problem.
Still, the show must go on so we plunge into 'Purgatory'. By halfway through this the problem's getting serious and my amp (well, not my amp) has had enough of sudden power surges and decides to blow up n me. Again, roadies are trying everything to put the situation right so I end up with another amp which sounds worse than the first one.
This carries on all through the set with amp changes and the like until I've got a sound like a buffalo fart (you know, very similar to morning after a night on the Guinness but not as loud).
By this time we've been through numbers such as 'Wrathchild', 'Killers', 'Another Life', 'Murders in the Rue Morgue', 'Phantoom of the Opera', 'Running Free', etc, how, I'll never know, so when we finish 'Iron Maiden' it's debatable whether it's safe to do an encore or not, but the crowd are still going bananas so we go back to do 'Drifter'. Well, at least we can get them to have a singalong anyway.
By this time, far from enjoying the gig, I feel like crawling into a hole and dying but the song goes really well and everybody (well, the crowd, anyway) are really happy. We really can't do another one because my gear has finally had enough and just doesn't want to know so that's it! We find out that the problem was the generator and we were drawing too much power and it just happened to be my gear to go down! Oh, well, that's life, I suppose.
After we get changed we all do interviews and then go back to the hotel to drown our sorrows. I mean it wasn't a disaster as far as the crowd goes, but we were all a bit peeved.
We get back to the hotel at about 9.30 and head straight for the bar which is only open until 10.30 so we've gotta go some to get pissed. By now everybody's got over the trauma of the past couple of hours and spirits are up again in more ways than one.
After the bar closes we sit around talking for a while then crash out, as nothing goes on in Yugoslavia on Sundays after 10.30.
Monday morning at around about 10.45 everybody's ready to leave so we say our goodbyes to Ross Halfin who is going back to London and we head for the airport to catch the 'plane to Stockholmwhere we have a gig tomorrow night. All-in-all, not an amazingly successful weekend but we had a good time, anyway.
This was the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me, Robbi Millar!